Time short to get food into Share
Share Family and Community Services desperately needs thousands of packages of food — especially high-protein items — so the food bank can fill holiday hampers in time for Christmas.
This season, food banks in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody expect to distribute 1,800 hampers and Share is well short of the 52,240 items it needs to fill them.
A visit to the Port Moody food bank this week revealed dozens of empty crates that should be filled if volunteers are expected to stock hampers and add a little extra for the holiday season. At last count, Share had fewer than 20,000 items and needed more than twice that many by Dec. 9 — just nine days from now.
"It's quite a tight schedule," said Katherine Lawrence, fund development manager for Share, but the deadline is necessary to enable volunteers to pack hampers in time for the Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 distribution dates.
And while Share can count on the generosity of Tri-City residents, businesses and schools to give and eventually meet that goal, the earlier the food is delivered, the more items can be included in the holiday hampers.
"These are bigger hampers," Lawrence explained, "At this time, we have two and a half weeks' worth of food, and that's it. We need it to be replenished."
Also at this time of year, Share likes to add a grocery gift cards of varying amounts depending on the size of the family, as well as fresh produce, such as potatoes, apples and carrots, and needs cash donations to make that happen.
"If people are doing [food bank] drives, if they would like to make a donation — a monetary donation or a food donation — we'd like to get in by the ninth, that helps us out," she said.
Donations that come in after are still important, though, as "it will always go into the hands of people that need it," Lawrence said.
What has become painfully obvious over the last several years is that without the extra support of groups such as the Rotary Clubs, and ongoing generosity of grocery stores, businesses and individuals, Share would not be able to continue to meet the growing need of struggling families.
According the Share, Tri-City food bank use climbed 56% between 2006 and 2010 to more than 8,000 recipients, and among those who benefit, 50% are children.
Mike Trelenberg, assistant manager of the food bank, said many of the people he sees arriving at the food bank have jobs but their income doesn't stretch the entire month and a hamper of food will relieve them of the difficult choice of whether to pay a utility bill or buy food.
Among the items most desperately needed are canned meals, such as ravioli and beans in sauce, canned fish or meat and peanut butter, which packs a power punch and is enjoyed by most children, Trelenberg said, adding:"These are the items people can use to make a meal and really stretch a dollar."
What to give
These are the items most needed by Share to fill food bank hampers this year:
• high-protein items such as peanut butter, canned meals (stews, ravioli, beans and sauce), canned fish or ham
• tomato sauce, pasta sauce, pasta
• canned fruit and vegetables, juices
• cereal, baby food, packaged pastas, rice
Donations are being accepted at most grocery stores as well as at the food bank in Port Moody at 2615 Clarke St. (in the rear).
Visit www.sharesociety.ca to find out more. Donations of money are particularly important at this time of year as they can be used to beef up holiday hampers with grocery gift certificates.
The toys most urgently needed are those for teen boys and girls. You can view the Toy Shoppe wish list and the locations for dropping them off at www.sharesociety.ca.
One of the most convenient locations for dropping off toys is the Share Christmas Tree at Coquitlam Centre, which will be open from Dec. 2 to 23, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, the mall is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.